Welcome to Chaplains Today, a place for practical resources and thoughtful reflection, intended for those who serve among seniors either in care facilities or the local church.  These spiritual care providers work with residents and families to address a wide variety of needs:

  • Adjusting to living in residential care;
  • Family dynamics;
  • Spiritual distress;
  • Depression and phobias;
  • Death and end of life issues;
  • Need for forgiveness and  grief/loss.

The most important trait of chaplains and pastors is their willingness to simply, "Be present". We include the phrase "the power of presence" in our "tag line" because many residents and parishioners have said to one of us, "Thanks for simply being here today." We are reminded of Jesus who came to be among us. And, the clarion call of the Apostle James who urged, "This is true religion in the presence of our God and Father: to visit orphans and widows in their distress." (James 1:26)

A good chaplain or pastor also possesses counseling skills,  understands and embraces different models for grief and loss, traumatic events; and, motivates others, just to name a few.  However, there will be issues about which the Care Provider might be unaware. Thus we are always learning!  Issues of sexuality, for instance, can be very challenging in residential care.

Such chaplains are also grounded in a biblical foundation for ministry to seniors (well over 250 biblical references mention the needs and life of seniors).

Chaplains Today seeks to provide short articles on a wide range of topics regarding pastoral care. We invite others to provide further practical insights by submitting articles.

Meet the Authors

Daryl Busby, Ph.D.

Daryl has over thirty five years of teaching and ministry experience in the local church, seminary and various chaplain settings, including senior care homes. He has developed an effective model for adult spiritual formation and learning. After twenty years of teaching and administrative work in graduate schools, he and his wife, Shirley, moved to Kelowna, B.C., where he now serves as a chaplain at a complex level seniors’ community and she manages websites.

Daryl has a heart for those with dementia and loves to see them respond to words and music. His graduate education includes both the M.Div. as well as a Ph.D. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) in adult learning and spiritual formation. Further learning includes certification in“Gentle Persuasion” for work among those with various dementias. He also has experience in hospice care. He has published numerous articles in refereed journals and also hosts the website www.spiritualadults.org. He speaks often in churches and other settings on the themes around spiritual formation of adults.

Rev. Keith Johnson

Keith and his wife, Pat, served as pastor in six churches, for over forty years within the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. He also served as a Substitute Teacher in local schools. Parallel to these roles, he has also been a chaplain for over thirty five years in various communities, most recently for seven years as Chaplain at Shannon Oaks Community in Vancouver, B.C. He will receive a “Fifty year of Service” Award in 2020.

“I love to ‘live out my passion’ with the people I serve; and to work with a team of people who seek to serve Residents well.  Chaplaincy also affords a greater opportunity to interact with Residents in different contexts – at meal time, on Bus trips, social and entertainment gatherings, and at organized Bible Study and Chapel functions! “

He holds both a Bachelor and Masters Degree from summit Pacific College in Abbotsford, B.C.

Rev. David Van Essen, M.Div.

After planting a church in the inner-city of Toronto, David and his wife moved to Kelowna where he served as a chaplain in three senior communities for over ten years and continues to work part time in this role during his retirement. In some settings, he pioneered the chaplain’s position, while in others he enhanced the significance of the role.

He adds, “As a Health Care Chaplain, I have enjoyed the challenge of connecting with people, learning about the disease processes that affect behavior and communication; and, exploring entry points with folk who are locked up by sadness, loss and disease.  I love to encourage people to connect with each other.  I continue to write about providing spiritual care in a health care setting and finding ways to share this with others.”

He holds a Master of Divinity degree, from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston as well as further training in both inner city ministry and Clinical pastoral education (through Kelowna General Hospital).

"I love to do research (Biblical studies and Psychology), and to share what I learn in various settings present.  I love to watch for God’s Spirit at work."